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Question For All Those That Have Lumber Mills

1769 Views 30 Replies 16 Participants Last post by  bigblockyeti
For all those of you that have lumber mills, I am curious as to what's the strangest thing you've come across inside of a tree when cutting that has either destroyed a blade or not?

What prompted this question is that I just had a Mesquite tree milled a good size tree, I just received a call from the mill that two blades were destroyed due to a ball bearing, I am having my doubts and am wondering if he's just trying to squeeze more green from me?

The tree came from my back yard, the neighborhood was developed in the mid 80s, I'm the second owner and can't imagine a ball bearing, I'm hoping he's saving it for me. Right now he has them drying so I won't get the lumber for a couple more months.

The original deal was $150 cut and dried, I confirmed this with him several times over the phone he even told me how long it would take to dry them, a couple or few weeks went by when he called that's when he said the lumber was ready for pickup and also stated the part about the two blades destroyed and the ball bearing, I asked him then what the cost would be including the blades his response was $275.00 total which included the milling and the blades only, I then brought up to him that drying was also included in the deal he said he didn't recall that, He told me his cost for drying was $1.00 PBF so I stated once again about the original deal and offered to pay $300.00 for the whole package, he agreed to that, but it all just seems kind of funny, not a good way to do business, and that's why I am wondering he he's trying to squeeze me for more.
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I didn't mill this log. I came from my front yard and I figured there was hardware in it.

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I've found plenty of lead bullets, barbed wire and staples/nails. Luckily being inside a tree softened a bullet enough they just dull a blade.

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My blades are about $18 each, so I don't get to excited about it. I can get them sharpened for $6.50 each.

If his blades are that expensive, I would have stopped after the first ball bearing.

We used to shot ball bearings from sling shots. It could be were they were from.


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I've experienced a bicycle chain once from a tree in a neighbors yard that I was having milled. That mill used circular blades with 80 teeth of which I had to replace 15 teeth. Can't remember the costs. Most mills remalinin in the Chattanooga area will not take logs from a residential lot.
ive had plenty of wood milled and one thing you learn is what type of trees are safe to mill, tree's that come from around houses or if on a farm, trees near barns or around pastures, there is a chance of metal, all types…ive seen some strange and weird things come from such trees, so having a tree milled from such areas is not a good idea, usually your sawyer will ask you where the tree came from, and will warn you that he he hits any metal that its going to cost you for the broken blade..but what he pays for a blade, im not sure, one thing to know is that you know your sawyer and whether or not you trust him, its a good idea to know these things up front, how much it will cost if he breaks a blade and so forth..its not just an easy thing , there are variables …
Grizz, I failed to mention, that yes before I left his property when dropping off the logs he mentioned that any metal in the trees I would be responsible for blade replacement and I understood and agreed to that but being the second owner of the property after it was developed I didn't think anything would be in the tree as it was an old tree left standing when the neighborhood was developed, as a matter of fact I'm surprised they didn't remove the mesquite when building since they are considered a trash tree.
Here is a cedar tree growing inside an oak tree.

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well im sorrry you got hit on this, any time i consider having a tree milled i want to know the history of the area, most of the time ive hit something, its usually lead, bb's or bullets, to me the ideal situation is to just have your own mill, and use blades that are not so expensive…just make sure you make something with the wood that will give you your money back…if you use it to make some of these more recent mens boxes, you will get your money back….
You should ask to see the ball bearing, and if he doesn't have it any longer, ask to see the piece of wood it came from and the broken/destroyed blades. If he has the typical band mill, then he's charging way too much for blades ($62.50?). He's not too smart if he broke 2 blades on the same ball bearing. The second one should be on him.

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I think one of the mills around me use metal detectors.
Of course nails and screws. Old farmers nailed fences to what was handy rather than set a post (my father). I have found several bullets.
I charge $20 for a damaged blade. Takes about 5 minutes to change one.
Bob I was wondering that myself as to why he went through it again for two blades?
My guess is with ball bearings, he probably thought it was a fluke on the first one.

I think the kids using ball bearings in sling shots is a good probability. My brother was a great shot with a sling shot when we were younger.
Was it Asimov or Heinlein or Einstein that said something on the order of: If you try something once and it doesn't work but you try it again anyway you are an idiot.\

I harvested a nice oak here at the campground. I got some beautiful slabs, but found an iron railroad spike on about the fifth 5/4 slab. The tree was over 150 years old and was originally railroad property. In the 1880's There was a siding within about 8 miles and another 10 miles south.
Those spikes were used as markers to lay out something. TX. R.R. Commission historical archives show a siding here for cotton.

I dug that spike out with a big chisel, a brace and bit and a lot of swearing and sweat.
I replaced my saw chain, ($28), and went another 6 inches and ran into another spike. This one would have been oriented around the side compared to the first.
After another chain, more swearing, sweating, chiseling, boring, etc., I started again, but stopped almost immediately. I decided to buy a harbor freight metal detector and found a third spike about a foot higher. The best $40 I spent on harvesting trees was that metal detector. It's the arm held type for searching for stuff in the ground.
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All of the logs I dropped off were two large to metal detect. :( Not even he had a detector that would go that deep.
The concept is you run the meta detector on top of your slice. Make your slab cut and run the detector again and so on. Even if it can detect 4-6'' at time, its worth saving a blade.
Your experience reinforces the idea that you should always have a written contract that clearly defines all details of any "deal" that you've made. In this case the contract should have specified the work to be performed, the cost and basis for the cost (ie price for bf of cutting, price for bf for drying, cost of blade if damaged by "hidden" objects in the log(s), etc). The contact should have also specified that the sawyer was required to keep and show you the "objects" which damaged the blade(s) and any damaged blade(s).
MR, I'm not sure why I didn't think of that, makes perfect since!

Yep Herb, I agree.
Agree with mrjinx007
I have to ask, could one with a band saw mill use a blade suitable for cutting steel?
A ball bearing would take that out though.
I have friend that makes industrial pallet sawing machines that cuts right though nails.
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